In Primary Care, “Data” Is A Four-Letter Word

Check this out.  What you will see is a brilliant article about how data should, and shouldn’t, be used in primary care. Pretty simple actually.  The three key principles that the article elucidates are shown here.  They include:

Data should be collected to inform doctors and their patients, not to pander to some MBA bureaucrats who want to tell physicians how to practice medicine. 

Similarly, data should never be allowed to get in the way of the flow of treatment. They should enhance treatment, rather than decrease its efficiency.

Finally, data should be treated as treatment information only. Ancillary to the attainment of a treatment goal.  To the extent that hitting a metric becomes the goal, it is time to rethink the role that the data are serving.

Example of all of this? Colon cancer screening. Virtually every eligible patient claims that they will comply with a directive to get screened for colon cancer. BUT. Only 50% actually do so. If used to inform doctors and their patients, that’s useful data. If used to beat PCP’s over the head because they are not practicing “ideal” medicine, that’s data as a four-letter word.

Bottom Line. The key idea here is really a simple one. Data will always be a four-letter word to PCP’s if they are employed as a tool to appease regulators, payors, etc.  We need data to serve as a tool for doctors to use, not to be used against them.

Easy to say, tough to implement in 2019.  

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